Iodine is critical to healthy thyroid functions. Its deficiency can cause weight gain, low energy, cognitive decline, and is link to a variety of cancers. 75% of adult may not be consuming enough iodine.
Our thyroid gland is located in the front of our neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Thyroid hormones, derived from the amino acid tyrosine and iodine, control our metabolism; regulating everything from body temperature and heart rate to glucose consumption and blood lipid levels.
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) results in a set of symptoms: a slower than normal heart rate, feeling of being cold, inexplicable weight gain, dry skin, hair loss or dry hair, weakness, muscle aches and fatigue. Iodine deficiency can produce symptoms of low thyroid function even without abnormalities in measured thyroid hormone levels.
The most visible symptom of iodine deficiency is goiter, which is the enlargement of the thyroid gland that can cause swelling around the larynx. While goiter was fairly common a few generations ago, most don’t know what it is. The practice of salt iodization, implemented in the 1920s, resolved the problem. By lowering our salt intake for health reasons and/or using non-iodized salt we are also cutting our iodine intake.
In nature, iodine is a relatively rare element. It’s found mainly in the oceans, but its presence in our depleted soil, is very low.
|Seaweed, whole or sheet, 1 g||16 to 2,984|
|Cod, baked, 3 ounces||99|
|Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup||75|
|Iodized salt, 1.5 g (approx. 1/4 teaspoon)||71|
|Milk, reduced fat, 1 cup||56|
|Fish sticks, 3 ounces||54|
|Bread, white, enriched, 2 slices||45|
|Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, canned, 1/2 cup||42|
|Shrimp, 3 ounces||35|
|Ice cream, chocolate, 1/2 cup||30|
|Macaroni, enriched, boiled, 1 cup||27|
|Egg, 1 large||24|
|Tuna, canned in oil, drained, 3 ounces||17|
|Corn, cream style, canned, 1/2 cup||14|
|Prunes, dried, 5 prunes||13|
|Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce||12|
|Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup||11|
|Lima beans, mature, boiled, 1/2 cup||8|
|Apple juice, 1 cup||7|
|Green peas, frozen, boiled, 1/2 cup||3|
|Banana, 1 medium||3|
The United States recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150-300 micrograms (mcg) for adults. They were first established as a minimum requirement to prevent goiter. These guidelines may be inadequate to address certain health conditions.
By comparison, the estimate of the Japanese iodine intake (largely from seaweeds), averages 1,000-3,000 mcg/day (1-3 mg/day). The Japanese illustrate the importance of iodine, not only for thyroid health, but on other body functions as well. When you compare the Japanese and Western diets against cancer incidence, Japanese women have a third of the breast cancer rates of American women, a difference that disappears in women who immigrate to the US, where they consume less seaweed.
Scientific evidences are emerging about the role of iodine in preventing breast and reproductive system disorders (like menstrual irregularities, infertility, early menopause, and ovarian diseases), a major concern for millions of women. It has been shown to have a powerful antioxidant effect equal to vitamin C. Human breast contain higher concentrations of iodine than the thyroid gland; the evolutionary reasons for this are understandable: iodine is indispensable for the developing brain, so the mother must supply iodine to the nursing baby.
Daily doses of 3,000-6,000 mcg have been used, in short and medium term studies, to help women with iodine deficiency linked to endocrine health conditions such as fibrocystic breast disease.
Iodine is known to play an essential role in prostate health and immune function. It is a potent anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and anti-viral agent.
Iodine is part of a class of chemical elements called halogens. Once reduced, they become halides: iodide, bromide, fluoride, and chloride. We may not be aware of it, but we encounter them all the time; bromated flour, fluoridated tooth paste, fluoridated and chlorinated tap water, as well as some medications and pesticides. The problem is the amount we find in our environment. Because of our low intake of iodine/iodide and the unnatural high intake of other halides, they will bind to iodine receptors and block the action of iodide. Making sure we have enough iodine/iodide in our system to compete with other halides is very important, as well as having an adequate intake of vitamin C and taking Epsom salts baths to help eliminate the surplus in our system.
Also important to note that selenium is an essential co-factor of the enzymes used in thyroid, breast and reproductive system tissues. It is important to make sure we get between 200-400 mcg/day in order for our body to make optimal use of dietary iodine. 2 medium-sized Brazil nut (10g) will do the trick.